POST TIME: 20 April, 2019 00:00 00 AM
La Liga set for big finish despite Barca stronghold
AFP, Madrid

La Liga set for big finish despite Barca stronghold

Barcelona might have their eighth title in 11 years all-but sewn up but, with six games left to play, La Liga is far from finished. Atletico Madrid are battling city rivals Real Madrid for bragging rights and second place while Sevilla, Getafe and Valencia are in a three-way scrap for the last Champions League spot.

Real Betis, Athletic Bilbao and Alaves could all make the Europa League, and at the other end of the table, seven clubs are facing the threat of relegation, with five of them separated by only three points. Here, AFP Sports takes a look at what is left to play for ahead of round 33 this weekend.

Barcelona sit nine points clear of Atletico and will be confirmed as champions later this month if they beat Real Sociedad on Saturday, Alaves and then Levante at Camp Nou on April 27. The title could be wrapped up sooner if Atletico slip up, with Diego Simeone's side away to Eibar on Saturday before a tricky game at home to Valencia next week.

Ernesto Valverde is likely to rest players to keep them fresh for their Champions League semi-final against Liverpool but it is important to maintain momentum too, not only for those two legs but also the Copa del Rey final against Valencia next month. Barca have a treble in their sights.

Finishing ahead of Real Madrid for a second consecutive year might not make up for Atletico's early exit from the Champions League or their timid title challenge but it would still be an impressive achievement for a club that continues to punch above its weight.

For Real and Zinedine Zidane, making up the four-point gap would be scant consolation for a miserable season that cannot end soon enough.

They play at home to in-form Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, when focus will again be on Zidane's selections and any clues as to who might stay or go in the summer. Gareth Bale, left out against Leganes on Monday, looks likely to be on his way.

They were title challengers in November, doubtful to make the top four in March and now Sevilla are favourites to take the final Champions League spot ahead of Getafe, whom they visit on Sunday.

Four wins, including one over rivals Real Betis last weekend, and a draw since Joaquin Caparros swapped his role as sporting director for coach has put Sevilla one point ahead of Getafe, whose own challenge will go down as one of the most remarkable stories of the season.

Valencia are only three points back and will profit whatever the result at Coliseum Alfonso Perez, as long as they win on Sunday away at Betis.

That qualifying for the Europa League might end up as something of a disappointment for Getafe speaks volumes for their season but, as well as Valencia, in contention for the top six are also Athletic Bilbao, Alaves and Betis.

Bilbao were facing a relegation battle after winning only one game before December but a surge under new coach Gaizka Garitano means they are now only three points off sixth.

Alaves were fighting for the top four only a few weeks ago but have tailed off while Betis might have to beat Valencia this weekend to keep their hopes of a European place alive.

Huesca look doomed at the bottom of the table and Rayo Vallecano, five points adrift of safety, may have left themselves with too much to do, even if they win at home to Huesca on Saturday.